Drum Corps International
Spotlight of the Week: 1975 Oakland Crusaders
1975 Oakland CrusadersPhoto by: Drum Corps International

Spotlight of the Week: 1975 Oakland Crusaders

by Drum Corps International

The 1975 Drum Corps International World Championships Finals was the first to be broadcast nationwide on PBS.

This year DCI went to Philadelphia, the “Birthplace of American Democracy,” for the beginning of the nation's yearlong celebration of the founding of the nation. The host stadium, Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania, was built in 1895 and remains the oldest college stadium still in use for football.

The Madison Scouts won their very first championship title after losing only one show all season, the DCI Midwest Regional Prelims. Santa Clara Vanguard finished in second place with perfect general effect scores across all three effect captions at the time; brass, drums, and marching and maneuvering. Interestingly, perfect general effect marks in the Finals competition wouldn't be repeated until the Blue Devils were able to do so in 2014.

1975 Oakland Crusaders 1975 Oakland Crusaders

Members of the Oakland Crusaders placed sixth in their first year of a merger between the DeLaSalle Oaklands and the Etobicoke Crusaders, both corps from Toronto. DeLaSalle had placed seventh at the 1974 DCI World Championships and was one of the 13 founding member corps of DCI.

According to Cavaliers founder Don Warren, the 13 corps directors who founded DCI were at an Indianapolis meeting after the 1971 season. Someone asked what the new organization should be named, and when “Drum Corps National” was written on the chalkboard, the representative from DeLaSalle asked, “What about us?” resulting in “International” being added to the name.

The corps was led on the field by Joel Alleyne, who was one of the very few drum majors in DCI history whose name was widely known audiences nationwide. This was largely due to the show within a show that he put on, extolling his corps throughout a performance to push it to the next level. In the 1976 DCI sounveir yearbook, Alleyne stated that a drum major “must be aware of the spectators. The audience must feel that the drum major is in control of his corps and he must at the same time put on another type of show—a show for the crowd.”

 

During this period in DCI history, corps color guards only utilized one set of flags for the entire show. This was largely due to the rule that equipment could not be picked up from the field. Crusaders' flags were as minimal as one could get; solid white, attached to poles that had horizontal stripes of black tape running the entire length. Multiple corps members verified that due to limited funding, these flags were made from bedsheets and were rather heavy to spin.

The corps' uniforms featured a slightly curved black stripe attached diagonally across the front of the aquamarine/teal jackets, with bands the same color of the jackets wrapping around their hats.

The corps' show opened with the dynamic “Intrada (Entry March)” to “Swan Lake” by Peter I. Tchaikovsky, a Russian folk tale ballet written in 1875-1876. Upon its premiere by the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, Russia, it was deemed a failure. However, it gradually gained popularity with a new version of the music adapted in 1895 by Italian composer Riccardo Drigo. Tchaikovsky had died two years earlier and had long planned to revise the music.

1975 Oakland Crusaders 1975 Oakland Crusaders

The second part of the opener was the “Swan Lake Theme,” the part of the ballet's music most people know. After heading backfield, the corps turned around in a block formation and pushed forward with the kind of raw intensity that causes some old-time fans to wax poetically about “old-time drum corps.”

Following was the drum solo “Joropa Piropo,” taken from flugelhornist Chuck Mangione's “Friends and Love” album of 1970, recorded with members of Mangione's band and the Rochester (New York) Philharmonic Orchestra. “Joropo” is a traditional folk dance in parts of northern South America, including Columbia and Venezuela. “Piropo” means a catcall or flirtatious comment in Spanish, and may also refer to a pick-up line.

The following selection was “Jupiter” from Gustav Holst's “The Planets,” a seven-movement orchestral suite written in 1914-1916, shortly after the premiere of Igor Stravinsky's “The Rite of Spring.” It's unlikely one will ever hear a faster tempo of the famous chorale, which the corps took at 132 beats-per-minute. Marked “Andante maestoso” in the original score, it is performed in concert halls at half that tempo. During this segment, the horns and flags formed what could best be described as a shorter rendition of a sunburst, a move typically “owned” by the Troopers.

 

The corps' concert standstill production was Bill Holman's “Málaga,” written by the Stan Kenton Band's tenor saxophonist/chief arranger and recorded in 1973 on the “Live from Brigham Young University” album. This piece and Holman's arrangement of the classic Spanish tune “Malagueña” have long been drum corps classics, performed by a wide variety of corps.

The closer of Chuck Mangione's “El Gato Triste,” came off Mangione's “Land of Make Believe” album on 1973, the album that opened and closed with two drum corps classics, “Legend of the One-Eyed Sailor” and “Land of Make Believe.” Oakland Crusaders would bring this piece back for their 1976 DCI finalist show, along with “Jiropo Piropa.”

The drum solo interlude featured the horn line performing a huge expanding “X” formation, the type of grand drill gesture that always prompted an appreciative response from the audience.

1975 Overview


Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than 35 years and serves as a staff writer for various Drum Corps International projects. Boo has written for numerous other publications and has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. As an accomplished composer, Boo holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition. He resides in Chesterton, Indiana.

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